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Things We Learned In Giants’ 24-10 Loss To Detroit Lions

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The Giants are playing like a bad football team, and things could get worse

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants
Odell Beckham played Monday, but wasn’t a factor.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

What did we learn from the New York Giants’ 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions on Monday night? Mostly that right now the Giants look like a bad football team. You can joke that perhaps the current Giants wanted to honor the 2007 championship team by matching their 0-2 start from that season, but nothing we saw Monday night was remotely funny.

The Giants didn’t protect Eli Manning. He got sacked five times and took hits like this:

When Manning did have protection, things still didn’t go well. Bad Eli showed up when he misfired on a throw to Evan Engram and got intercepted. Also when he took a delay of game on fourth-and-goal at the 2-yard line. When Good Eli showed up, his teammates let him down. Brandon Marshall dropped what should have been a long completion. Engram couldn’t hang on to a pass that could have been a touchdown. Veteran running back Shane Vereen somehow managed to run a 2-yard route on a fourth-and-3.

The Giants gave up and 88-yard punt return for a touchdown. They gave up first downs on a pair third-and-long situations during Detroit’s first scoring drive. They allowed an uncharacteristic 138 yards rushing (4.3 yards per attempt). The Giants turned a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line into a first-and-goal at the 11 thanks to a Brett Jones holding penalty. They settled for a field goal after the fourth-and-goal delay of game.

They can’t score, with only 13 points in two games. They can’t seem to get critical defensive stops on third down. They got hurt by special teams Monday, giving up the punt return touchdown and having Aldrick Rosas bang a kickoff out of bounds. They are making critical mistakes — drops, penalties, missed tackles, turnovers, you name it — at awful times.

You know what all of these things are? They are things that bad football teams do, or that bad football teams have happen to them. Through two games, the Giants look like a bad football team.

Several Giants pointed out that there are 14 games left and that the Super Bowl-winning team that was honored at halftime had also started 0-2. A few players said that being 0-2 “sucks.” Which, of course, it does. The Giants, though, have earned being 0-2.

They haven’t played like anything resembling a good football team. Now, they have to get ready to play the Philadelphia Eagles in Philly, a place that hasn’t been friendly to the Giants in recent years, on a short week. Three of the next four games, in fact, are away from MetLife Stadium, with games on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos sandwiched around one home game against the Los Angeles Chargers.

This could spiral out of control quickly. How do the Giants fix it? Or, can they fix it?

“We go back to work. We have to analyze everything we’re doing. I mean, we can’t pull points out of a hat. We’ve got to get to work,” coach Ben McAdoo said. “We have to block better, we have to handle the ball better, we can’t turn the ball over, we have to play complete, complementary football and we’re not doing it.”

A few more observations.

Ereck Flowers is still bad at playing left tackle. Ezekiel Ansah (three sacks, one forced fumble) made sure we noticed that. Ansah took a torch to all that optimism about Flowers’ offseason work. Unfortunately, the Giants don’t really have a palatable alternative to the 2015 first-round pick.

Manning can’t rise above the mess. On top of which, he’s become part of the mess. Manning was horribly off target on a pass to Evan Engram that turned into an interception. He also held onto the ball too long on a couple of the sacks he took, mostly because there was nowhere to throw the ball. There was also the fourth-and-goal delay of game which McAdoo pointedly said came because of “sloppy quarterback play.” I have said throughout his career that Manning is not a quarterback who can really rise above the deficiencies of his teammates. Right now that is brutally obvious.

Odell Beckham can’t fix everything. Beckham played a limited number of snaps and had four pedestrian catches for 36 yards. His presence really didn’t make a bit of difference to the inept Giant offense. If you were expecting Beckham to be Superman, sorry!

The Giants refuse to free Orleans Darkwa. Darkwa gained 11 yards on his first carry, which didn’t come until midway through the second quarter. He only got two more carries, totaling 17 yards. Meanwhile, Paul Perkins ran seven times for 10 yards. Why the Giants won’t give Darkwa more opportunities is befuddling.

Bobby Hart shouldn’t have been active. He lasted two snaps before his injured ankle gave out, forcing Justin Pugh to right tackle and Brett Jones into the game at left guard.

The Giants have few offensive line options. Yours truly was among those who called for the Giants to, at least, sign a veteran swing tackle if they weren’t going to bring in real competition for Flowers or Bobby Hart. They didn’t. Consequently, they were forced to move Pugh and insert Jones. Two moves to replace one player. Plus, with Flowers struggling the Giants really don’t have a backup plan.

Crotch grabs aren’t cool. The 18-yard touchdown catch by Evan Engram was cool. His decision to end his celebratory dance with a crotch grab wasn’t, as the rookie found out some things still won’t fly when it comes to celebrating. That cost the Giants 15 yards on the ensuing kickoff. Engram said after the game he didn’t mean to do that. But it happened.

Teams are picking on Eli Apple. The 27-yard touchdown Apple gave up to Marvin Jones was indicative of a pattern that is developing. Teams are targeting the second-year corner, and this is the second week in a row he has given up a long play.

Calvin Munson did OK. The undrafted rookie free agent linebacker was forced into action with B.J. Goodson sidelined by a shin injury. He gave up a 17-yard pass completion to tight end Eric Ebron early in the game, but played well after that. He finished with seven tackles, one for loss, and a quarterback hit. So, that was a bright spot.